The ABC’s of Travel was a post that went had been going around the blogosphere a few years ago – before I even started a blog. I saw it on multiple sites I follow and thought I’d do my own. A thank you to Liz from Young Adventuress for tweeting a link to her ABC’s the other day, which was where I first found this.
A: Age you went on your first international trip: I was 13 when my family went on a cruise in the Caribbean and stopped in St. Maarten, Martinique, and Barbados. Generally, I consider cruises as more leisure and less travel because you don’t experience the places you visit that much. When I was 16 though, I took a trip to Spain for one month, which changed my life forever and opened my eyes to international travel!
B: Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where: Although I’m hard pressed to say a cider in London, I will have to choose Alhambra 1925. The cool, green bottle will always remind me of my first night studying abroad and how after a few I was a lot less nervous around all my fellow students. Granada also captured my heart, so that might have something to do with it.
C: Cuisine (favorite): Does tapas count as a cuisine? If so, I’d pick it. Otherwise, I’d say Spanish. The cuisine in Spain was not what I imagined it would be. It was a lot more bland, but incredibly rich at the same time. Everything from the paella to migas to gazpacho was delicious. The times and style in which they ate, later in the day and slower, also drew me to the cuisine.
D. Destinations, favorite, least favorite and why: Chefchaouen, Morocco has been my favorite destination. I had wanted to go to Africa since 1st grade and finally got there! I fully intend on exploring more of the continent someday. Least favorite, eh. That’s a tough one. Milan, Italy is a city I didn’t really enjoy too much and don’t have plans to return to soon. Barcelona and I never agreed either, but I want to give that one another shot.
E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”: Semana Santa was an incredible experience that I have had the chance to witness twice in both Madrid and Granada. I had low expectations the first time I saw it and was blown away. Another event would be being in Granada when Granada CF won the Segunda División B to be promoted to the Segunda División for the first time in 22 years.
F: Favorite mode of transportation: Walking. I like seeing places on my own two feet. I feel more connected to everything around me. Now, if you don’t think walking should count, I’d choose bicycling or train. Trains are more comfortable than buses, but bicycles, like walking, allow me to feel more connected to the area around me.
G: Greatest feeling while traveling: Being able to connect with locals. I love the euphoric feeling that I get when I’m able to converse with a local, share my culture with them, and, more importantly, learn about their culture from them. I always find it interesting to hear what people think of America or what questions they have about it. Talking with someone from across the world who you can relate to is always a great feeling.
H: Hottest place you’ve traveled to: Toledo, Spain. The only temperature reading I saw that day was 40° C at 16:00, so I know that it was even hotter earlier that day. I’ve been to Morocco, but not during the hottest months. This July I will be going to Phoenix, so that might just beat out Toledo.
I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and where: Throughout the United States, I’ve had great service, but the hostel I stayed at outside of Rome in Ciampino, Italy was excellent, especially for a hostel. They were new at the time and wanted to make sure we recommended the place to others.
J: Journey that took the longest: Driving from Phoenix, Arizona to Milwaukee, Wisconsin was quite the hike. It took forever in a small car with ’round-the-clock driving. A bus trip coming back from Madrid to Granada on a Sunday night that was supposed to take 4.5 hours wound up taking about 9 when part of the road washed away and we had to reroute.
K: Keepsake from your travels: Postcards. My Grandpa had a collection of postcards that has now been passed down to me, so I add to it. Plus, I enjoy sending them to friends and family.
L: Let-down sight, why and where: I wasn’t too impressed by the town of Pisa. The Leaning Tower was a good sight, especially given the history and facts behinds its construction. I didn’t find the town to be anything to write home about though.
M: Moment you fell in love with travel: When I took my trip to Spain in high school, I think I fell in love with travel when we had free time to roam the city and explore. I remember wandering in awe at the beauty of both Madrid. It was then that I realized how important travel would be in my life, and had to be in my life.
N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in: The nicest hotel I ever stayed in was a beachfront hotel in Treasure Beach, Jamaica. My favorite hotel was Hotel Austrias in Madrid. It wasn’t the nicest hotel ever, but it was in the place that I fell in love with travel. You could also club through our bathroom window and onto a rod balcony over-looking Madrid, which was pretty cool!
O: Obsession-what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?: As anyone I have traveled with can tell you, I take pictures of everything while traveling. EVERYTHING. However, I’d say that taking pictures of people socializing, relaxing, and just living in their natural environment doing everyday tasks is something that I really like capturing on film.
P: Passport stamps, how many and from where? I have about 15 stamps, but plan on collecting quite a few more over the next few years as I ditch my cozy, 9 to 5 cubicle life for life as an expat and traveler. My stamps range from Jamaica to Spain to Morocco. Morocco is definitely my favorite stamp.
Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where: Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station in London has to be up there. The Bronze Fonz statue in Milwaukee is an odd one too.
R: Recommended sight, event or experience: This is a tough question because it’s difficult to narrow it down. I’d have to go with Chefchaouen, Morocco as an experience. I recommend going somewhere that is completely different from anywhere you’ve ever been and where you are the one who sticks out. As for a sight, the Zion National Park Narrows are one to be seen.
S: Splurge; something you have no problem forking over money for while traveling: I don’t mind shelling out money for a quality, local meal and a good local brew. Maybe the beer part is my inner Wisconsinite showing. I suppose gelato in Italy could count as an answer for this too.
T: Touristy thing you’ve done: I’ve done and seen quite a bit of touristy things, but one I’m still mildly ashamed of is being coerced into taking the classic ‘holding up’ picture of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
U: Unforgettable travel memory: I will always remember the conversations I had with random Spaniards at the botellón in Granada and the random questions they’d ask me about America. Voulnteering in Jamaica at a local school and soup kitchen will stick with me forever too becuase those we were helping were so incredibly grateful for everything we were doing and all had interesting life stories that they were completely open to sharing with us.
V: Visas, how many and from where?: I’ve had two different Visas and will be applying for a third this summer. All are for Spain.
W: Wine, best glass of wine while traveling and where?: Spain. All over Spain, there is excellent wine. I’ve had wine in many other cities, but I still prefer the wine in Spain.
X: eXcellent view and from where?: Ronda, Spain from the bottom of Puente Nueva. Top of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Summit of Mt. Baldy in New Mexico. Mirador de San Nicolás in Granada.
Y: Years spent traveling?: I have been going on trips here and there since I was young and have been taking trips here and there throughout the years; however, I am not a digital nomad or on any sort of long-term travel right now. Come September, I will be teaching English in Spain and begin my life as an expat in España.
Z: Zealous sports fans and where?: I have two answers for this one. The first, as you could probably guess from my other answers, is Spanish soccer (fútbol) fans. Whether it’s Barcelona or Real Madrid fans or passionate fans of a smaller club, Spaniards sure love their fútbol. I really got into it when I was in Spain and will be seeing Real Madrid this summer. Unfortunately, I will not be in Spain for this year’s World Cup. My second answer is Green Bay Packer fans. I’m from Wisconsin, and people here live and die by the Packers. I would argue just about as much as Spaniards and their soccer. If you walk into a bar in Wisconsin, I could almost guarantee that you could be the entire bar to chant “Go Pack Go” or at least start up a riveting, passionate discussion about the Packers.